Memorial Day

In a more innocent time, Memorial Day meant something special. For my father, a World War II veteran, it was a time to honor the soldiers who lost their lives defending our country. It was a time to fly the flag and pause to reflect.

My father’s generation understood why they went to war. They never questioned it. They never doubted. They knew what America stood for and they did what they had to do, even if it killed them. Then they came home and worked their butts off raising their families.

On Memorial Day we still honor those who fought and died but now we are less certain. More conflicted and less united. More divided, more cynical and less patriotic. Today it’s about long weekends and kicking off the summer. Big box sales and parties. Baseball and barbeques.

My father passed away on Memorial Day in 1991. So on this weekend I think about him and salute the sacrifices he and his generation made for their country. His America was different than mine but it still holds the same promise. The brand is a little more tarnished and the answers are not as clear, but when you peel back the politics and turn down the volume that stokes the fear, the values are still the same. Justice. Equality. Compassion. Strength. Courage.

Here’s to you Dad. I will remember. I will stand up. I won’t forget.  

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Straighten up and fly right

I admit it. I’m still into comic books. I’m nuts about Superman, Batman, Spiderman and lots of other justice seeking superheroes. For what seems like forever, I’ve been waiting for Clark Kent to put on the costume and fly on Smallville.  Kal El has one more chance to fulfill his Kryptonian destiny and become Superman tonight in the series finale.

Superheroes always talk about destiny. They understand that there are two kinds of people in the world. Some of us wait for things to happen and some of us make things happen. Some of us are followers and some are leaders. Some of us like certainty and others are comfortable taking risks.

I’m not so sure I believe in destiny. I don’t think I was destined to own a Denver PR firm. I don’t know that I was destined to move to Denver or be a musician or work for a baseball team or run my own business. Those are all decisions I made along the way that determined the course of my life. I think I just made those things happen, instead of waiting for things to happen to me.

We make decisions and take the path that feels right for us when we get to the fork in the road. Some of it is planned and some of it is just dumb luck. The trick is figuring out if you prefer to follow someone else or pave the way. Do you take the path that your parents or your boss lays out for you or do you try to find your own way?

As PR pros, we often talk to clients about their objectives. What do they want to accomplish? What do they want to say? What story do they want to tell? It’s surprising how often the answers are not clear. They don’t know, or maybe they have never even considered the questions. They are waiting for things to happen to them instead of making things happen for them.

You and your business and your staff and your team all deserve the opportunity to determine their own destiny. To decide what kind of brand they want to represent or leader they want to be. It is important to create a culture that allows everyone in the organization the freedom to grow and improve and change and blossom. A culture where everyone is free to fulfill their destiny.   

As Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility.  Like Superman, we must use that power wisely to lead the kind of life and leave the kind of legacy we choose to create.    

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